Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

I don’t need to tell anyone who Ada Lovelace is. The world’s first computer programmer was, strangely enough, female. Today is Ada Lovelace Day; it’s celebrated on March 24th each year.

Actually, I’d like to focus on her presence in fiction. William Gibson and Bruce Sterling used Lovelace as a character when they wrote “The Difference Engine,” arguably the first Steampunk novel. [As if Gibson hasn’t done enough already, what with inventing Cyberpunk in his masterwork, “Neuromancer.”]

Lovelace is presented as a gambler, genius, and historically significant figure in “The Difference Engine.” She’s the first person to have developed code for Charles Babbage’s difference engine. In the novel, she and Babbage go on to develop analytical engines, and the IT revolution happens rather a lot sooner. The world begins to operate on steam engines, and as a result, the political,
military, and social history of the world to now is substantially altered.

Ada Lovelace is historically significant, but like so many other characters who have been plucked from obscurity by the force they wield in our imaginations, her true value is her inspiration to the daughters of the digital age.

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